Want To Know How Much A Website Should Cost?

Everyone wants to know how much for a website, but no one wants to hear, “It depends.” Here are some of the things influencing pricing & our own pricing model

Are you after a Ferrari, a Lexus, or a Hyundai?

We’re just like you. We like to know how much something is going to cost, but without context giving a ballpark figure for how much a website will cost is very difficult. We could say $3,500, and then when we have talked through all of the requirements the budget really needs to be around $20,000….but no one wants to hear a ballpark figure of $3,500 to $20,000.

Before going into details of the decisions that impact the amount of time that goes into a website, we try to work our pricing on two models:

  1. $3,500 for one of our semi-custom websites where we take one of our existing designs as a starting point, and customise it to your brand, objective and content.
  2. $7,000 for one of our custom designed websites where we wireframe, design and then build your site.

This is where we try to fit our clients. That does not mean if there is $20,000 worth of work for a custom design website that we will do it for $7000, but where we can we will try to get to the most affordable pricing for your website so you still have money left for marketing. Afterall, if you’re getting no visitors to your website, why spend anything on your website!

You may have seen deals for $1,000 websites, and wondered why all websites don’t cost this much. These types of websites typically target simpler businesses like hair dressers and mechanics (most of these businesses are going to be the same). However, if you’re in an industry that is highly competitive and your ideal clients are researching the options, you need to make sure your website sets you apart from your competitors if you expect your website to convert for you.

So how do we make sure your website is an effective marketing tool for your business?

It starts with understanding why you want a new website

Can we make a pretty website for your business? Yes. But we need to understand why you are looking for a new website.

  • Is your website outdated and falling below the standard set by your competitors?
  • Are you getting visits but no conversions?
  • Is the content no longer relevant?
  • Does your website say nothing about who your ideal client is?

If we don’t ask those questions, and make sure they are addressed in your new website, then you may as well have just freelanced it to India.

We want to make sure your ideal clients know they are in the right spot

If you’re making your website visitors think too hard, they’ll go to a competitor that is clearer about how they can help. If you’ve been in business for a while, you know the best person does not always get the job….the person that makes people believe they can get the job done gets it, even if they are not the most qualified.

And really it comes down to the effectiveness of your messaging. Is it clear that your offering can help people just like them, and do you show that you have the runs on the board for helping people just like them.

Effective messaging to a generic audience is hard, so that’s why we push through to understanding who your ideal client, or clients, are. If you have more than one type of client that you work with, this is going to have a major impact on the structure of your website if you want to optimise your conversions.

Think for yourself. There are times when you will go for a general handyman, and other times when you will use the services of a specialist tradie. I’m guessing you want to be perceived as, and paid as, a specialist in your profession.

If you want to attract the best clients that won’t question your rates, then content specifically tailored to them, and setting your website up to make sure they see it, is essential.

Site, and page, architecture

Every page should have a purpose. When someone visits a page, what is the next action that you want them to take.

It is no longer enough to spend the majority of your time thinking about how the home page is going to look. Often, the home page is just for filtering visitors, and getting them to the page that is going to be most relevant to them and where they are more likely to convert.

It’s our job to work with you to understand who your ideal client is, and what content they are going to need to see on their way to converting.

Even at the page level, each page has a flow. Understanding your primary and secondary call-to-actions, you know what you want people to do on that page so what will they need to see before taking that action you want them to take?

For a website to be effective, even before getting to the design stage, your whole site is typically mapped out and then each page is wireframed (a black and white outline showing the flow of components and content of a page). Your budget will determine the extent of this step.

Planning for marketing – there is a very good chance that at some point you are going to be doing some marketing and driving people to your website. If it is very targeted, you may very well need landing pages. You may already be considering the landing pages you will need, but if not we may also think about adding in the capability for those pages when we are planning the website build.

Website design

If you’ve ever been presented with the first version of a website mockup, the reality is that was not the first design concept. As an agency, internally we typically see a few iterations of many of the pages of a website.

Starting with the home page, this is typically the design that sets the style for the whole site. Earlier discovery would typically have:

  1. Sought input from the client as to websites that they like. Some part of this is making sure the client is happy, and some part managing expectations. It’s important we gauge the clients understanding of design choices as to how it relates to conversion optimisation. As the client you are in the middle of what you do as an expert, and sometimes it takes an outside perspective to understand what the visitor is looking for.
  2. Looked at competitor websites to understand the expectations of the industry. There is nothing wrong with taking inspiration from competitors to determine what is working for them, and using it as a starting point to make sure your website is at least on par with the competition. However, don’t expect a Ferrari on a Hyundai budget – in this case we may look at a different approach that does not put you up as a direct competitor with the bigger players. If you’re a small business, you have the luxury of a more focused approach than bigger entities with more employees to pay.

In the home page we will be:

  • Considering design for the header and footer that will be typically carried through the entire site
  • Setting many of the styles that will be used throughout the site in terms of font family(ies) being used, font sizes for headings and body copy, deciding on colour combinations and design elements.
  • Applying styling to content that was decided upon in wireframing.

As the home page is a big part of setting the overall feel of the website, this is typically presented to the client for input before other website pages.

As how a website looks across different device sizes is important, budget permitting, we also do design for different devices to ensure the best user experience no matter what device a visitor is on. On lower budgets we design for desktop, and adapt in development.

Other considerations for a website design (and the time required for this stage) are:

  • Will all pages follow a similar format?
  • Does each page have a unique design?
  • Design of blog.
  • Design of single blog article template, and if custom post formats are needed for video and audio.
  • Is landing page design also required?
  • Any particular unique requirements.

Particularly with custom website design, it is not unusual for a website to require upwards of 40 hours on design alone.

Website Development Stage

This is where content and design are coded and implemented into a working website. This is not a simple copy and paste exercise. It includes:

  • Set up of headers, footers and sidebars that will be common across the site, and possibly variations for specific pages.
  • Set up of page templates to incorporate the body of the content plus header and footer templates. These may include full width page templates, or page templates with sidebars.
  • Set up of blog and archive (e.g. blog categories) page templates, blog post templates, case study templates, etc.
  • Integration of advanced functionality, e.g. forms, ecommerce, membership.
  • Addition of individual pages, with advanced styling of elements (this is not a simple Word document).
  • Making sure every page is responsive, i.e. checked and additional styling added to ensure an optimal experience for visitors no matter what device they are using.

Realistically for custom website development, do not be surprised if a website agency budgets for 30-40 hours in development. Even for that number of hours, it is assumed that the agency will be using and adapting code from previous projects or frameworks.

So what is the ballpark cost for a website?

When asking for a quote for a website, agencies may take a number of approaches:

  1. With a detailed scope of work they may give a fixed price quote. They use their experience on similar projects to give a flat fee, with any requests outside the scope of the agreement attracting extra charges.
  2. They will provide a quote with work broken down into stages with each stage having an estimate of cost with a margin allowing for extra billing to cover unforeseen circumstances requiring extra work.
  3. They will outline the full scope of work (which may be broken into stages), and charge by the hour.

Each approach has its merits, and we have used all three approaches as required for different projects.

However, as mentioned earlier, we are focused on a holistic approach to your marketing so our goal is to keep pricing where we can to a two price model:

  1. $3,500 for one of our customised websites where we take one of our existing designs as a starting point, and customise it to your brand, objective and content.
  2. $7,000 for one of our custom designed websites where we wireframe, design and then build your site.

Note that we do have clients that this two price model has not been suitable for, and have quoted accordingly.

Website Content

A lot of businesses find producing content for their website hard….

1. They don’t have time for it.

2. They don’t know what to write, or write it in such a way that will appeal to the visitor, i.e. jargon free.

To simplify the process of getting a new website online, and not having it waiting on you to have a spare day or two just to write website content, it might be simplest to just outsource this. You might go looking for your own copywriter, or as an agency we can handle all of this for you.

We really like to integrate this part into the wireframing process for your website where we break down the flow of every page and what needs to be covered. We go section by section, outlining the main headings and then filling in the content gaps. Website content starts from $200 per page.

What other costs need considering

Generally, don’t expect a website to be a one-time investment. Much like your computer, you should be updating the software and keeping regular backups should something happen. Consider this like insurance and regular servicing for your car.

We find some clients are quite capable of managing this themselves, but for the majority of clients we manage this for them.

Our website care plans include:

Weekly updates

Much like your computer, it’s important to keep your “website software” up-to-date. As well as functional enhancements, WordPress and plugins are often updated to close security holes that may be exploited by malware and hackers.

If available, we run updates weekly, and conduct a visual check to make sure there are no obvious issues after the update. If any issues we revert to the pre-update backup, and advise you should you wish us to correct any problems causing the update problem.

Daily offsite backups

Your website is the central hub of all of your marketing. Even for word-of-mouth referrals it’s a source of credibility. These days, it’s extremely rare to have hosting issues but we run daily offsite backups just as an extra redundancy just to be 100% sure that you can be back up and running should anything occur with your website.

Integration of a Content Delivery Network (CDN)

Page load speed is extremely important to the user experience, and even has some impact on how Google considers you for their search results. We use a CDN for our managed clients which propagates website assets to servers all around the world. This results in assets being loaded from the server that is closest to the website visitor (whether they are in Perth, London or New York), reducing the time it takes for the file to be delivered to the user’s browser.

Image Optimisation

As a standard practice, we always encourage our clients to optimise an image before uploading to their website. An image coming from your phone may be 5000 pixels wide, but only needs to be 400 pixels wide for where you are uploading it on your website. Reducing your image dimensions alone will greatly reduce the file sizes on your website, and therefore the size of the web page that a visitor needs to download to view that page…smaller page sizes, faster website.

On top of this we implement a service for image optimisation for managed sites. This automatically remotely convert images to the best format and size for the user browser and device, and are delivered by CDN. If image is commonly loaded, it is cached on the CDN after processing so does not require the processing step.

Website Image Optimisation Service

Hosting

For sites we are managing, we can include hosting (fair usage allowance applies, i.e. if it’s a resource hog we would probably migrate you back to your own account).

What’s next

Well, I hope that gives you a fair idea of “how long that piece of string is” when trying to get an understanding of how much a website will cost. If you want to check out our semi-custom website option you can check it out here, or get in touch for a conversation about your needs, website, content or digital marketing related.